From Publishers Weekly
This stomach-turning account of the multiple atrocities committed over 43 years by Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski—as sadistic a killer as most readers would ever want to encounter in print—seems like more of an as-told-to than an independent journalistic narrative, though Carlo says that he verified Kuklinski's accounts where possible. But rather than critically assess Kuklinski's largely self-serving tales of his roles in such major mob killings as those of Jimmy Hoffa and Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Carlo (The Night Stalker
) seems to accept them. Instead of applying objective insight into how such a murderer—who researched methods that would prolong his victims' suffering—came to be, the author presents instead chapter after chapter of Kuklinski summarily killing criminals he was hired to eliminate or randomly gunning down someone on the street to test out a new weapon. By disregarding the questions raised by Mafia experts such as Jerry Capeci about Kuklinski's credibility, Carlo has fumbled an opportunity. Sloppy errors (e.g., Rudy Giuliani served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, not the Eastern District) also detract from the book, which ends with a bizarre invitation to the reader to write to Kuklinski at the Trenton State Prison. (July 11)
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Richard Kuklinski, the Ice Man of the title, has told his story before in a variety of forums, including books and videos. Here Carlo tells Kuklinski's story more or less straight from the killer's mouth, with little verification or questioning. Given Kuklinski's grandiose claims, such as participation in the unsolved murder of Jimmy Hoffa, this produces a narrative of unrelieved horror. Kuklinski reveled not only in killing but also in the suffering of his victims, and here he emphasizes how he compartmentalized his life so that his family was shielded from the nastiness of his trade. Other than fulsome detail, not much new about Kuklinski is relayed. Carlo's presentation of Kuklinski uninterrupted does, however, make for nice comparative reading with the killer's wife's book, Married to the Iceman
(1994). Good as an omnibus resource on Kuklinski, this is a fine entry in the burgeoning field of works tracing the decline of the traditional organized crime families and their once impenetrable structures. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved